This game had been rendered academic half an hour before it had begun and while there was still competition, it felt as if all the tension had been sucked out of the Sher-e-Bangla stadium. It made little difference to India’s marks-card at the ICC World T20 as it sailed past Australia to earn a fourth straight ‘A’.
Yuvraj Singh put his troubles behind him, making a 37-ball-fifty, while R. Ashwin was the outstanding bowler again with four for 11 as India won its final Group 2 game by 73 runs.
The team’s out cricket also saw a marked improvement, with as many as six high catches held in the field and none shelled.In pursuit of a not-unreasonable 160, Australia crumbled to a pitiful 86 all out, for a third defeat in three.
The burden of chasing semifinal places had been lifted, but it far from aided performance. Aaron Finch and Cameron White — in the team for James Faulkner — were dismissed early trying to hit the ball over the top.
Mohit Sharma, making his international T20 debut here, then bowled Shane Watson as Australia stuttered to 27 for three in the Power Play overs. The strength of Australia’s reply hinged on one man: Glenn Maxwell.
India had evidently practised its catching, but the way Maxwell began, even a fielder on top of the dugout would have been inadequate.
Successive sixes were clobbered off Suresh Raina, and a third off Ravindra Jadeja. David Warner had been dismissed at the other end, but the fear of a Maxwell assault remained. But in the end, the batsman caused his own demise for 23, bowled by Ashwin attempting a ludicrous standing reverse-sweep for 23. Australia’s end came tamely thereafter, the next five wickets tumbling for 31 runs.
Earlier, for the first time this tournament, M.S. Dhoni lost the toss, with the result that India was inserted in to bat. Shikhar Dhawan was left out after his dire run and replaced by Ajinkya Rahane while Mohit Sharma took Mohammad Shami’s place.
Rohit Sharma lasted only four balls, his swish off Brad Hodge caught at short third man. Virat Kohli already seemed warmed up, for he hit Glenn Maxwell over deep mid-wicket not a minute after he had walked in.
Kohli fails to fire
But Kohli’s extraordinary streak with the bat — scores of 74, 36, 54 and 57 in his last four games — was to end. He stepped out to the leg-spinner James Muirhead and picked out Cameron White at long off.
Suresh Raina and Rahane vanished without great impact to leave the side four down for 66. If India’s middle and lower order had been demanding time at the wicket, here was a bucketful of it.
At the other end, Yuvraj Singh had watched two of his colleagues depart while enduring struggles of his own. He had been unable to put Maxwell and Bollinger away, limping atypically to 13 off his first 20 balls.
Dhoni’s arrival must have helped him; the captain and he frequently exchanged words between deliveries, both eager to see the glint return to his batting.
Soon enough, a fluency surfaced; it helped, of course, that Muirhead sent down two gracious short deliveries. Yuvraj clubbed both of them savagely, the ball disappearing in tall arcs over the legside.
That was followed by another delicious six over extra cover, against the pace of Mitchell Starc no less. He reached his fifty with a fourth six, doing justice to a full toss from Shane Watson.
His partnership with Dhoni — which had raised 84 runs in seven overs — was snapped when the skipper was bowled for 24. Yuvraj was dismissed for 60 as India made 159.